Humanities Center

Work-In-Progress Series

Alisa Wade - History Department

"Wives, Widows, Executrixes: The Familial Politics of Elite Women’s Inheritance in Early National New York City"

Friday December 3,  NOON

Click for ZOOM  or Join with Meeting ID: 890 6409 3770  and  Passcode: humanities

This project studies a series of familial inheritance disputes in post-Revolutionary New York City, revealing the ways that cultural practices of inheritance among the city’s elites impacted women’s ability to protect their financial standing. Widows frequently found themselves in precarious positions, dependent upon the goodwill of male relatives, the estate’s executors, or social or familial networks to ensure economic security. Yet, as this project argues, while these women rarely insisted on individual protections and instead depended on social networks for material stability, they did so within the confines of what it calls “the business of family”: ultimately absorbing personal risk in order to ensure the success of the next generation.


Luz Bermúdez - Visiting Scholar, History Department

"Social History through the Act of Naming San Cristobal de Las Casas (Chiapas, Mexico)"

Friday, February 4, Noon 

Click for ZOOM  or Join with Meeting ID: 890 6409 3770  and  Passcode: humanities

Dr. Bermúdez will talk about her book in progress, City of Names. A Sociocultural History of San Cristobal de Las Casas. She will address some of the underlying historical reasons for the remarkable number (ten!) of different names that have been used for the former capital of Chiapas (Southeast Mexico).

This long list of names was for a long time viewed as a mere historical “curiosity”. However, the act of naming may go further than an act of territorial denomination; it is also a symbolic appropriation and at the same time a way of imposing socio-cultural aspects (such as migratory flows, ethnic influences and overlapping relationships of rivalry, authority and subordination) in this geographical and mentally-constructed space.

In that sense, the questioning of the diverse names given to current San Cristobal de Las Casas can help to explain some of the dramas of the city at different times during more than four centuries (1524-1943). The aim is to overcome reductive views of social relations under rigid antagonistic models, to rethink the historical, ideological and cultural mechanisms that perpetuate inequalities in Chiapas as in other parts of Mexico and Latin America.

Luz Bermudez, Ph.D is a Fulbright Visiting Scholar (Program 2021) at the Department of History at Chico State. She is historian from the Center of History and Theory of Arts, of the School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences (France). She is full professor at the Autonomous University of Chiapas (Mexico), where she teaches courses concerning History of Ancient Mesoamerica and Latin America (16th-20th centuries). She has published articles and chapters about her main lines of interest, notably Funerary Art, Otherness and Urban History in Chiapas. She is book author of De Arte y Vida en el Panteón Coleto, 1870-1930 (2005).


Misgav Har Peled - Visiting Scholar

"Resistance, Bodies Politic and Extermination: Roman Emperors, Anguished Rabbis and Circumcision"

Friday, March 4, NOON

ARTS 105  ( and also available on  ZOOM ) 

Using the medical metaphor of amputation, genocidal extermination has been justified by presenting the intended victims as an ulcerous or cancerous part, to be cut off or removed in the name of saving the “body," whether that be the nation, the ethnic group, or the empire. At least one Jewish legend from the end of antiquity portrays the Romans as wishing to exterminate the Jews using this justifying discourse. In his work, Dr Har-Peled shows how this Jewish narrative — formulating the question “To cut or to be cut?” — resignifies circumcision as an act of resistance to the Empire, with an ironic twist, turning on its head the deluded scheme to self-circumcise the Corpus Imperri (body of Empire).

Dr. Har-Peled (Independent Scholar: Phd, EHESS, Paris 2011; Johns Hopkins University, 2013) is an historian of religions specializing in Historical Anthropology, Jewish Studies, and Medieval Studies. He has published articles on diverse themes, including rabbinical literature, the crusades, the avoidance of pork and Jewish, Christian, and Muslim relations, as well as Mexican history. In 2019 he co-published a book about the current French politics of integration. He is currently writing a book about the fear of extermination in Judaism from the Bible to the End of Antiquity.

Art and Social Change

With the 2020-22 theme, Art and Social Change, the Humanities Center seeks to inspire discussion about the ways that art can help us understand the past, engage with current social concerns, and envision the future. Events will highlight interdisciplinary humanities research and creative activity on the impact of the arts on society, locally and internationally. Focusing on intersectional issues of social justice, including systemic racism, sexism, and economic disparity, we will engage scholars, students, and the community in conversation on how art reflects and provokes social change.